I’m working on a book concerning the nobility of one of the core regions of Fletnern. The idea is to present a very large number of nobles and their employees - but present them as personalities, not as game statistics. More - The hope is to present this same group of people as two completely different styles of government, showing that you can take personality driven characters and add them to any game world or game system. A lot of these characters I “know”, because I use them a lot. While writing, it is becoming clear to me that they will be seen as “evil”.
Let’s take the top dog, Edward Highell-Forsbury. He is coming off as a laissez faire, philanderer with little concern for his citizens who see him as a “hanging judge”. So I need to rewrite him. He is in fact a very complex character. He is himself a business man, one of the largest cattle ranchers in the world. He is also one of the most powerful political figures for hundreds of miles in any direction. It is true that his morals would be considered incredibly low by most Americans, but are pretty much on par with Hollywood, except for the fact that he actually likes his wife. He also has a sense of duty, not to any individual subject, but to his subjects as a whole. He has twice risked his own life in wars to defend his allies (truly defending the region as his lands would have eventually been at peril as well). He did this out of his sense of duty, an honor code that he follows begrudgingly. He uses his political connections to advance his business dealings, but typically as a means of defeating rivals and not as a means of bilking his customers. He’s not a nice guy, but is he evil?
Let’s take a different example. Take a business man who has amassed a fortune through intelligent business deals, peppered with insider knowledge and political contacts. So far it seems the same, right? But this guy isn’t a nobleman. He’s not using his contacts, but instead bribing high and low level political figures to change the laws to benefit him. Once he’s really wealthy, he starts to change the game. When his fortunes turn, he uses his amassed fortune to bribe and extort those political figures into raising taxes in order to enable him to recover his losses - losses that had nothing to do with the tax paying subjects. He then goes on to begin what can only be termed a marketing campaign to convince the poor farmers who are paying the higher taxes that their crops are being taken in order to save the kingdom, when in fact they’re only being used to prop up his bad business deals. I think this is evil.
Our first nobleman played by different rules than his subjects. He had every advantage and made use of them. But he was still willing to do what needed to be done to preserve the lives and livelihoods of his subjects. The second guy (who I hope you see represents a few current people, who’s names I will give you if you really want) is really the selfish one. While he too plays by different rules, he has no concern whatsoever for the commoner, and honestly believes that preserving his wealth is the “greater good”. The problem is I don’t know if I’m dealing with an actual difference or just a difference of degree.